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Haq Bakshish


Sir: Property, inheritance and asset management are social and religious powers in the hands of men. Under the guise of devoting their lives to the Quran as ‘wives’ of the Quran, women’s lives are obliterated and wiped out. The tradition known has Haq Bakshish literally means ‘renouncing the right to marry’. It is an ancient tradition that is still widely practiced in Sindh and in some parts of Punjab, most often by feudal families that call themselves ‘Syeds’. The roots of this tradition are economic more than religious. ‘Syeds’ often consider themselves as pure-blooded and upper-caste Muslim families, and are reluctant to marry their women into ‘non-Syed’ families. When a ‘suitable’ husband cannot be found for a daughter or sister among the extended family, it is considered preferable to keep the girl cooped up inside the family home rather than divide the land, giving a portion of it to the girl as dowry and let her marry an outsider. This is a kind of caste system, which sees other families as being lower in status. There is no such distinction made in the Quran or the sayings of the Prophet (PBUH). This practice has been going on for a very long time. Under Pakistani law the Haq Bakshish tradition is punishable by a seven-year prison sentence, but no one dares report such cases. Obviously the society in which this practice continues is silent and equally culpable. Islam in this particular scenario is being misused against Muslim women. Islamic statutes on a woman’s share in property are very clear. The practice does not become acceptable by giving it a religious twist. The government should take action against these kinds of customs, which not only destroy the lives of women but are also an affront to the holy Quran. 


ALISHBA NADEEM


Lahore

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